May 8, 2014
pamparius

Don Antonio’s and some crappy cell phone photography

One reason why I can’t remember the name of the pizza joint I went to during my last New York trip is the same reason why I haven’t been updating Pamparius very often this year.  I’m bored of it.  Oh wait, I remember now.  Don Antonio’s.  It’s in Manhattan in an area so close to Times Square you can feel your retinas begin to pre-heat in preparation for the oncoming annoyances of this part of Manhattan.  Yes, the pizza was good but I’m so bored of pizza napoletana at this point I just can’t be bothered to pretend to be interested in the pizzaolos or the cornicones anymore.  It’s like the over abundance of microbreweries in Richmond.  We get it.  You can make tasty stuff but I’m struggling to find the differences between all of you.

Ease up.

I think the most exciting meal of my New York weekend were the fried rice balls from the little dump next to Wreck Room I had while speed-walking down Evergreen to get back to a party I had left a couple hours earlier.  Quite possibly the most insanely delicious bar food on the planet, Arancini Bros fried rice balls will warm your belly, burn your taste buds and you’re gonna like it.  I ordered a few of them after seeing White Widows play at The Morgan because, frankly, it’s the best legal thing you can do at Wreck Room.

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A good friend of mine who works at a Saveur took me to this place in Hell’s Kitchen called Don Antonios.  I can’t remember the “story” but I’m assuming its something like guy number 1 worked at such and such, got a big head and opened his own place serving up a similar product but with a twist, right?  Yeah.  One of the pizzas (La Racchetta) is shaped like… a tennis racket.

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The pie is good enough, not stellar.  I’ve had better in Philly, DC, Richmond, San Fran, pretty much anywhere, and at 22 or 23 bucks a pop, you better nail this shit, because it wasn’t.  The classic pizza swamp derailed this train much like I’ve seen with brick oven pizzas before.

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The appetizers were fantastic.  An arugula and tomato salad (Angioletti) with little pieces of fried pizza crust and some arancinis of their own.  Really tasty, but the arancinis don’t touch the stuff served up next to the Bushwick dive that is so filled with urine and cocaine on the weekends.

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It’s all really delicious food.  It’s all my fault that I’ve stuffed my fat face with so much pizza in the last four years that I’ve grown grumpy to the whole idea.  I’m doing my best to stay away from the stuff while I slowly make my way down to my summer weight (which I will reach sometime in October) but I often find myself derailed, slumped on the floor at 1am with two giant slices of Belmont and a tub of pimento cheese, waiting to find out what happened to Steve Bartman for the 12th time on Espn30for30.

As always, thanks Laura and Melissa.  Love you both.

 

May 8, 2014
pamparius

Dinamo

The pizza at Dinamo is eerily similar to the pie slung around by 8 1/2 and Mamma Zu and there is no wonder, they’re both owned by Ed Vasaio.  Shit is good.  Not great.

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Me and a pretty lady ordered this red anchovy along with some pretty bangin’ Motza ball soup.  There is something missing for sure.  That signature garlic overload that is so familiar with 8 1/2 pies is missing, and the undercarriage on the Dinamo pie is a pale yellow.  No signs of charring to bring out dat flava.  Oh well.  At eight or nine bucks it is a good enough deal if you’re in the mood and their anchovies are spot on as well so you don’t have to worry about losing any quality in that dept.

Certainly having a pretty lady buying your lunch can’t hurt either.  Dinamo is great.  Don’t ask me how to pronounce it though.

Jan 14, 2014
pamparius

California Love – Old Bay & Liquor Stores

This is a guest post by Ashton I. of San Diego, CA.

Liquor store pizza.  Does that get your attention?  If you like where this is going, please read on.   If you don’t like where this is going, please stop reading because you’re obviously a terrorist and pose a threat to the temple of American Culture known as Fiori’s Pizza and Spirits.  Fiori’s is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood of San Diego.  Better yet, they’re on Eagle street. How’s that for patriotic, you commie son of a bitch!?

As you approach their building from the adjacent parking lot, it promises nothing more than any of the other beer, booze, and candy slingers around town.  Once you cross the threshold into the store, however, you’re bound to notice the odd deli counterish setup immediately to your left.  Honestly, it just looks like there used to be a sandwich shop there.  Like the owners finally gave up the ghost last weekend and simply haven’t finished moving the furniture out quite yet.  Not so.  The small, bizarrely placed kitchen is alive and damn if it ain’t kickin!  Their website ( http://fiorispizza-spirits.com/1708743.html ) boasts a menu full of Italian dinner entrees, sandwiches, and pizza, but I only know one guy who has strayed from the 8.99 Large One Topping Pizza deal to try a sandwich, and he said it was horse shit in a bun. Those are my words, not his, but that was the general idea conveyed to me.

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Stop thinking about poop in a sandwich roll though, and come back with me to the topic at hand.  Pizza. There’s actually not much to say about their pizza in a 2014 “what brilliant idea have these guys stumbled upon after smoking dank weed laced with Citra hops out of a beautiful hand blown glass bong filled with Heady Topper IPA for bong water” way, but that is the brilliance in itself.  There are half a dozen places around town I can bike to for a slice of arugula, pork belly, and shredded truffle pizza.  The options for a straight up pepperoni pizza that hasn’t come out of a freezer are now a cherished commodity.

The cheese is very good, as are the peps and the sauce.  Nothing fancy, but nothing missing either.  What really sells me on Firori’s pizza is their crust.  In the chain world, dominos absolutely sets the bar for what a “not too thin, not too deep” crust should be.  In the independent world, Firori’s upholds this standard.  It has crunch, but it’s not a crouton. It has dough, but it’s not a baguette.  It keeps the cheese in, and all the terrible atrocities of this world out.  The price point is very appealing as well, and likely subsidized by the fact that you are definitely walking out of this place with at LEAST a six pack of beer that costs more than the pizza itself.  If these prices seem excessive to you Richmonders, just keep in mind that housing costs roughly double here and food/drink cost about 125% of what you’re paying.  Wages are way higher though, so it all works out in the end.

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Back to pizza.  The reason Andy asked me to write this post was because I apparently had one of those “craft beer bong water” ideas that seemed incredible to me but has most likely been done millions of times before by less obnoxious people who didn’t waste their time Instagramming it.  I’ve been on an Old Bay kick recently.  Like, in a “if you love it so much why don’t you marry it” kind of way, but in a 2014 “if you love it so much why don’t you get a tattoo of it” kind of way.  I haven’t yet, but I already have one planned out.  I told you I was obnoxious.  So my wife and I were chowing down on a classic Fiori’s last Tuesday night, and I decided to douse my half of the pie with that glorious concoction of salt and herbs know as Old Bay.  The results were satisfying to say the very least.  I loved it. I can’t believe nobody who has surely tried this before hadn’t shown me.  I loved it.  Did I mention Firori’s also delivers?  Not just the pizza, the alcohol too.  Don’t tell the terrorists.

Dec 6, 2013
pamparius

I knew Macaulay would always be a cool kid

The Pizza Underground.  A Macaulay Culkin fronted Velvet Underground cover band with songs transformed into pizza lovin’ tunes.

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Come to Richmond, please?  Lets share a couple cheese slices in a taxi and check out Christmas lights.

Dec 6, 2013
pamparius

23rd and Main Taproom

Had a bunch of these from a work event a while back.  They all looked great but lacked in flavor.  It boils down to making the impression that you have a quality product when you don’t want to spend money on quality ingredients.  Smelly, wet mushrooms.  Big, lifeless pepperoni.  Dry crust.  Just boring.

Sette is now 23rd and Main Taproom.

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Oct 11, 2013
pamparius

Pizza at Mint

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It’s more of a flatbread thing but with braised lamb, olive, feta and some other goodies, it tastes great. Go for happy hour and it’s only $4/$5.50 (veggie friendly option available).

Oct 9, 2013
pamparius

100 Ways to Eat Pizza

Some of these are ridiculous. A few are pretty cool. In an exercise in problem solving, a student at Pratt Institute sketched 100 ways to serve pizza. I think the pizza shots should be rearranged. Lick the breadcrumbs, shoot the sauce, eat a piece of mozzarella. All in all, some good fun.

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http://100waystoservepizza.tumblr.com/

Aug 17, 2013
pamparius

Pizza Crawl V – Number of the Feast

actual design, not a sketch

actual design, not a sketch

On September 7th, we, along with the knowledgeable folks at Carytown Bicycle Co. will be hosting the fifth Pizza Crawl aptly titled “Number of the Feast.”  This will be in conjunction with the Bicycle Film Festival which is now enjoying three days of fun instead of a lonely Sunday full of movies.

The Bicycle Film Festival, hereby referred to as BFF, will kick off with a party at Bunny Hop Bike Shop on Friday night.  Don’t show up to that old basement across the street from Ipanema because no one will be there.  Bunny Hop moved to Oregon Hill and to the rejoice of everyone, something was  finally done with that huge building on the corner of Laurel and Albemarle.  Our little pizza crawl will be held the next day at 4pm.  Make sure you come early to register because we’re jackin’ up the prices.  $10 gets you a ton of pizza as we’ll be hitting up two P.Crawl virgins on this tour, along with OG’s Tarrants and 8 1/2.  Fret not oh lovers of graphic tees, we are getting new shirts this year!  You can finally retire that ratty Gary the gorilla on a Lefty shirt from way back when we did the 2nd pizza crawl.  Woo!  Those will be $20, includes pizza partyage.

Your eyes shant be deceiving you.  That is the art that will be on the shirt, printed on beautiful college rule fabric and famous Bic Blue ink.

Returning from last years crawl is Pizza Tonight! and some parking lot party action behind the CBC shop. This is where the men are separated from the baby faces as the unprepared have probably wimped out by now thanks to stomach cramps and poor fitness.  Grab a few slices from Pizza Tonights wood fired, mobile brick oven, sling some of the PBR out of your friends backpack and talk about your recent bike upgrades, or what you should have upgraded to if it weren’t for that speeding ticket you got last month.

The BFF continues with its main event(s) on Sunday at the majestic Byrd Theatre.  Fifteen bucks gets you access to all the short films and stories starting at 3pm and stretching into the night.

Aug 13, 2013
pamparius

The Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn. A little bit of everything.

My most recent trip to New York City was pure business.  Four days of work, the graveyard shift if you will, and just enough time during the day to stop off at one slice place in Manhattan that I haven’t been to in a year or two.  Artichoke.

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It’s four bucks and worth every dollar.  Big enough to satisfy and very, very different from the majority of street slices you’ll venture across in Manhattan.  This is gourmet stuff.  Fresh, tangy sauce, a proper dispersement of mozzarella, fresh basil and a crust that is crisp, flakey and charred on the bottom just enough to flash your tongue a bit of the flavor from the oven floor.  This stuff is a treat for me and I made this my only pizza stop in Manhattan during my week-long stay.  Oh yeah, did I mention 32oz Budweisers, to go?  Have a seat on the bench outside and enjoy some people watching on 14th street.  Artichoke rules.

So the real reason I was in New York was to work on a TV show that I was asked to PA for.  I can’t go in to any details, but during one of the shoots we were on location at a much cherished pizza place in the Bronx, right in the heart of an industrial district that employs thousands of New Yorkers.  These men and women work through the night seven days a week in a pretty desolate, almost depressing area that I could probably not hold myself to work in.  It’s dark, it’s damp and the hours are grueling.  We were there filming at 2 in the morning and most of these people were just arriving.  I met one guy who had just arrived with an 18-wheeler full of produce from California.  He had one partner with which he switched off driving duties over the 2 1/2 days it took them to make the trip.

What do these people do for food when their lunch break is anywhere from 3 and 6 in the morning?  There’s one place open in the area and it happens to serve up pizza, subs and donuts.  Due to the nature of the job, I’m forbidden from revealing really any information on the location(s), but let me tell you.  It’s barren out here.  Warehouses line the streets.  This pizza place is literally the only place that is lit up in your line of sight.  A bright white light from the sign almost blinds you as you pull up to it, and workers are rolling out pies at 3am.  Predator is playing on the two big screens inside as if it were a late night pizza party.

The crew was able to enjoy “lunch” here and while they do serve up pizza, their specialty is the broccoli rabe and sausage hero.

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I opted for this because, well, I’ve never seen this on a menu anywhere before.  Sure, this place has pizza.  I had some of their grandma style squared slices.  It’s the stuff of high school cafeterias.  The broccoli rabe and sausage was fucking phenomenal.  Broccoli rabe is a little like broccoli but much more leafy and pungent.  It lacks the bushy head of traditional broccoli and is much easier to eat without boiling it to death.  The sausage here is thick, mild and a little smokey, all mixed in with some garlic cloves, parmesan and olive oil on a toasty roll.  Fuck yes, son.

After four long nights of work and a gigantic nap I was finally ready to see some friends and relax a bit.  My old friend from Richmond, Liz was turning 29 and I was invited to her boyfriend’s backyard griller chiller.  Luckily for me they were grilling up some homemade pizzas.

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It looks small, but this type of backyard in the middle of Brooklyn is very hard to come by.  The grill?  Just a regular fancy shmancy propane grill.  The pizzas?  They came out great.

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There were several pizzas to eat  but this one had the best toppings configuration and a great example of a grill-produced crust.  The gracious host got a few balls of dough from a local pizzeria, stretched them out with some corn flour and threw them on the grill first.  Barren.  Cook the mother fuckers for a minute or two so the dough takes shape.  Lid open!  Let it char a tiny bit and then start throwing on your shit.  Close the lid and let the toppings cook up and the crust continue to form.  It took a few attempts but he finally got some great looking pies.

I’ve had pizza on a traditional grill before but these were by far the best.  After a few more familiar Richmond faces arrived we were all knee deep in funny conversation, story time and some legit pizzas.  Liz had a cheap-wine grin by the end of the night and I got a killer Brooklyn send-off once again.

I didn’t manage to hit up all the usual spots I wanted to this time around and I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with my friends but whether you plan for it or not, the pizza will always be there.

PS:  This trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fun and comfortable without the help of my friend Laura, who happens to do kick ass work for Saveur.  They did a solid expose on the Naples pizza scene in issue 156 and she tipped me off to Don Antonio by Starita in Manhattan.  Go eat there, it looks legit.

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